The Wine Helps

To say I was sick of packing and looking at boxes would be an understatement. But when I see the completely empty spaces, I see real progress!

When they pick up all the shelving units from my studio storage area, they will have to pack up my drill press as well. It doesn’t fit in a box and I cannot lift it. The shelves and that old work table will go into the garage on the side I will use as a studio of sorts. Mostly for printmaking with the etching press and proof press out there. My fingers are itching to start carving again.

I never thought I’d see the back of the under stairs storage but it is all cleared out and I stood back there to get the picture.

And I thought of giving the large easel away but was talked out of it. So into the garage it goes for the time being.

And at the new house there are some new things happening. All flooring and baseboards are in. New granite counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms.

And the shower is complete except for the glass door that goes here and in the guest bathroom shower.

I delivered all the light fixtures and fans on Friday. I might be a couple of lights short and will check on that tomorrow.  Seems I need to get a ceiling fixture for the entrance to the front door and a second ceiling light for over the sink island.  I did not want those hanging down pendants so opted for a recessed fixture that the builder and electrician think needs to have a mate. Easy.

I have started packing the pantry. Good grief! Why was there so much in the way of canned goods and pastas in there?! Did I think I was not going to the store before the year was up? This morning on my weekly trip to the dump quite a few out dated jars and cans went with me. But I did keep three jars from the back of the shelves….maple syrup our son harvested and cooked down in 1984 as a school project. When he comes for Christmas I think we need to open a jar and have some over pancakes. As I remember the syrup had a very smoky flavor due to the open fire he had to use to cook it down. And I remember that it is a bit thin for syrup because how many hours upon hours can any of us watch sap thicken. Harvesting from our own maple trees was so much fun. Just like making wine from the wild grapes along the road and dandelions from the yard. Does anybody even do those things nowadays?

A new drawing in the house book.

Maybe when I walk through the meadow to the new house tomorrow morning the builder will greet me with the house keys…..maybe not. For now I am enjoying a glass of red while I write this. Friday night friends picked me up to go to the winery to meet their friends. It was another chance to practice my social skills….woefully fading over the last few years. It was delightful. I think I am getting better at it. No where near ready for a whole room full of people, but a couple at a time seems doable.

Til later…..

Trying Hard

I am trying hard not to feel such hatred now….but there’s a long way to go getting past this urge to throw the pain back into the lives of those who have caused this turmoil to so many.

Our country has suffered and declined with the rise of a new kind of fascism that far too many of us hoped we weren’t seeing. Who among us would want to admit it really could happen, and here of all places. Who would have thought that our trusted sources for truth could so easily manipulate the gullibility of so many who just wanted to find a way to matter in a world moving at a pace that was hard for them to keep up with. Who could have possibly imagined that their salvation would arrive in the form of a man so obviously corrupt with his own self interest. A man that would be positioned to become what history will claim the worst president in American history.

He rode into power on vile behavior and lies to an appallingly ignorant and lazy base of his political party. A party that has in turn seen their opportunity to push an agenda solely created to benefit the tiny percent of wealthy donors that keep them in power. In four years everything had been set in place to oppress the disenfranchised, crumble the safety nets we all assumed would be there forever, and lie, lie, lie to those so desperate to believe.

Lying has never come so easy to the Republican Party. And it has never brought them to the exalted positions they feel they deserve as it has now in 2022. Whatever they are selling, a good amount of our citizens are buying it. How else could so many sit in places of power that make decisions for the entire population of the United States and by extension, the world?

The slimiest among them, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Marjory Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Louie Gomhert, Mo Brooks, Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, Josh Hawley, and more, have tainted the entire party with their desire to be seen as loyal to a disgraced leader and prove themselves worthy of his support in their political campaigns to move even further up the ladder of leadership. They make me sick.

Over the past several years I have wondered what their wives, husbands and children think of them. Why don’t they speak up, move out and get away from the suffocation of lives under the weight of insatiable egos. My own children try to tell me that the reason they stay silent is that they value the prestige garnered among their closed, small-minded, selfish circles and would not seek to give any of that up. Their hands are continually held out to be rewarded with private schools, nice cars, fancy clothes, and friends just as shallow as they are.

And in our country, as it has now become, the children will also attain the power of their parents on the backs of of another generation of people so easily pulled along on a string of lies.

The most egregious move the Republican Party has accomplished came through the Supreme Court’s ruling to reverse the guarantees of women’s rights over their own bodies. A right that has been “settled law” for fifty years. The court was packed with three lying, manipulating justices appointed just the last few years. They joined others just waiting for a majority to put women back where they belong…breeders and white breeders at that. Those of any other color will find it much more difficult to get the medical help needed.

In many states there will be no exceptions to their banning of abortions…not rape, not incest, not natural miscarriages, not babies who cannot survive outside the womb…..all, every one, must be carried to full term at great physical, financial, and mental cost to the families . involved. And several states like Texas, have made it unlawful to help these families in any way and to report those aiding the suffering to the authorities so they can be properly punished. Fascism.

I am obviously not a member of the Republican Party.  I lean left, not right. I was raised to help the less fortunate. I was raised to care and not hate. I am having a hard time with that not hating part. Today I am filling up with it. It is a good thing I am not attending the protests around the country. It is a good thing I am not confronted by a young pro-life christian man who thinks he has the right to push his beliefs down the throats of women everywhere. It is a good thing that for today I sit at home hating him and what he and his people have done to America.

Today I have donated to the campaigns of all those around the country who might be able to bring us back to where we can have the respect for ourselves that the world once bestowed on us.

Nice pictures and news of my house will come later…

Til then..



Christmas Time Come and Gone!

Christmas morning was small and quiet and quick. Interesting gifts that were mostly comestibles except for subscription to the Washington Post and some snazzy food containers. Lots of basic pantry foods. But then…

A bourbon from Detroit Michigan and some bottles of Stones ginger wine…a favorite!

Patrick turned each of us a pastry dolly for shaping small pies. Mine is a beauty from a crab apple tree. Then he roasted oak sticks to flavor alcohol. Here is the chart that explains the flavors of light, medium and dark roast.

We played board games starting with one sad round of one called Pandemic. We could not save the world and like Covid outbreaks, it happened far too often. We all thought there should have been more virus in the United States as here is where we have more people who are spreading it with their vast grasping of misinformation over facts.

So we put the board game away and went to our favorite…Settlers of Catan. Here we can travel, discover and trade our way to success.

And when we finish playing the game all the fun little parts go into this old field paint box I gave Amy for it years. We made little muslin bags for colored tokens and larger ones for the parts. I think Lee may have made the wooden tray to hold commodity cards.

Lee also made a slew of spare tokens out of wood because some get lost under the table. Patrick and I tied with three games each, Amy won one and Marla came close, but mostly discovered where more water could be found at sea.

And we had some good drinks.

Starting with Madeira to go with my first ever home made Christmas cake and a recommended Irish cheddar cheese.


Newton’s Law that has apple butter, bourbon, sugar, lemon juice, garnished with an orange twist and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Marla’s amazing Hot Buttered Rum made with her special “batter” and stirred with a cinnamon stick when mixed with a good rum.

Patrick’s Black Manhattans with whisky, Amaro, bitters and dark sweet cherry/orange twist garnish.

And our favorite when we all get together to celebrate our dear departed friend, Pacia. These drinks are dreadful in a somewhat pleasant way and always served in a Jefferson cup with fresh popped corn. We had no idea there was a name for these….Friskey if using a cheap whisky in equal parts to Fresca and a Frumpy if substituting rum instead. When we looked them up, the advice was to drink quickly but we take our time and remember Pacia fondly and share stories.

Oh, and I need to follow up on the little bottle of Screwball Peanut Butter whisky. It was not bad but didn’t taste much like peanuts.

We took several morning walks. The most recent one was at the folk school walk along the creeks. I will show more of the other walks in the next blog.

Then this morning they all left. Patrick pulling another trailer of things they want from here and Amy and Marla finding just enough room to fit themselves in her Jeep.

And away they went.

Now they are just about home in Michigan and driving in snow and slush on the highway.

So glad I live here and not there. All the laundry is finished and the beds made up again. My studio has less furniture and tomorrow a painter comes and gets all my pigment making equipment and soils. Then lots of cleaning to be done!

Til later….



Having a Dreary Day

The window washers had to cancel today and reschedule a few weeks from now. Finding help, even poor help is hard to come by in the rural south. There simply are not enough people to fill the job vacancies. And it is not as simple as pay more and they will come. I am sure the employers here would gladly pay if they could just get somebody willing and able to work. So being rescheduled for a good window wash and eaves cleanout is of small consequence. I am happy to still be on their list to get service.

Last week I picked out the appliances for the new house. Ordering early is a necessity with demand and shortages. I wanted a gas stove because that is what I am used to. And the one I picked out has five burners on top and a small one rack oven above and a bigger oven down below. Such a great idea for baking cookies one sheet at a time and baking/heating up simple dishes. A dishwasher that is as quiet as the one I have had for sixteen years and a microwave/hood combination for over the stove. The total for just those took my entire appliance allowance which is fine because I am taking my refrigerator and washer and dryer. It was fun to be in a store looking at what is new in the past sixteen years.

Later I will pick out fans and light fixtures. The builder thought I would like to get a chandelier for the dining room. I said no to that because fixtures like that tend to determine where a table goes. So canned lighting in the ceiling is fine. But some nice pendant lights over the island with a sink might be fun. For that island I requested outlets with USB ports for each end.

Building is as much fun now as it always was. Only difference is I don’t have Lee to share in the experience. He is still eating with a bit of help and only fighting the nurses at shower time. Medication has helped with the severity of his resistance. I asked if he still had his stuffed cats and they said not so much since he took his anger out on them but likely they were still in his room. For quite some time they were a comfort and maybe can be again. I am so thankful that he is in a place where they are equipped to care for him.

And as for me…I am the one left here remembering how things used to be and planning a different life for myself. Lee’s dementia and Covid have dwindled the social options. Only the best have hung in there with us. And as for the others who loved claiming how much they cared about us…they have drifted off with their concerns and intentions of keeping in touch to see if there was something helpful they could do. In all honesty here is what they could have done over the past five years since Lee’s diagnosis:

Brought him a pie, dropped off a casserole, a bottle of wine, offered to pick up something from a store I could no longer get to, come by to say hello to him, send a funny card to either of us, offer to stack his rocks, bring over some flowers/produce from their garden, tell us about something happening, ….in other words care enough to notice that we actually could have used more than hollow words.

But the good news is we managed with the support of family, long distance friends and those very few that live close by. We got through the hardest parts, and now have moved on. These last few paragraphs can serve as a reminder to others that strength comes from inside and help comes from very few.

The walks!

From one day to the next….the dam yesterday above and today.

I love how the mist is drawn upwards from the water.

And how the sun hits the sides of some things that would go unnoticed.

And my shadow at the turn around and head back place.

The color disappearing from the trees.

But back home the color on the ground.

All the water hyacinth and fallen leaves have been removed from the pond now. It has become a reflection pool for the rest of the year.

I did more drawing in the bird stories book.

And the chickadee now has a nest and some patchwork next to it. Tomorrow I might get to filling in the background with stitch.

Yesterday I had lunch with two friends at what used to be the Blue Ridge Mountain Coffee and Grille where we had breakfast every Sunday morning and I tore the paper napkin wrappers into all sorts of things to then turn into books and stories. It has changed, like most things. The food was better than I remember. Maybe next time I will take myself there for breakfast and see if they have a waffle or pancakes. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? A table in the corner with a plate of something ready for butter and syrup!

Patrick comes Monday to have Thanksgiving with me and pack up more of his dad’s tools from the shop and lumber that the two of them had plans for. He will make the mantle for my new house before he packs up and heads back home hauling a trailer behind. Then Christmas another load, and then wait until I sell this house just before my new one is finished.

I am looking forward to the newness of things ahead.

Tomorrow I will go back to the river for a walk and stop for a very good skim milk latte with lavender. Such a treat!

The nurse just called to say Lee’s doctor approved a more calming sedative for his shower days to prevent harm to his nurses and himself. Dementia is a cruel disease for all involved.

Til later….